Alberto Contador should know his fate before the start of the Tour de France.
That’s according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which promised it would make a ruling on the long-running clenbuterol case before the start of the season’s most important race.
“The CAS Secretary General has informed the parties that the CAS would be ready to establish a procedural calendar allowing for the settlement of the dispute before the end of June 2011,” a statement read on the sport court’s web site.
Appeals from both the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency have been officially registered and the legal process can now move forward. CAS also said it would be possible to join the two appeals into one “if all parties agree.”
Despite the appeals, Contador is free to race after being cleared by the Spanish cycling federation in mid-February. The Spanish federation lifted a temporary ban and cleared Contador on clenbuterol charges, agreeing with arguments from his lawyers that the minute traces of the banned substance entered his body after eating contaminated beef.
Contador has already won stage races at Murcia and Catalunya and lines up next at the Vuelta a Castilla y León (April 13-17) and Flèche Wallonne (April 20) before a run at the overall at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Comments last week in the wake of the UCI decision to appeal the ruling, however, seemed to indicate that CAS would not be able to reach a ruling before the start of the 2011 Tour de France on July 2.
Tour officials expressed their dismay that Contador would technically be allowed to start the 2011 Tour with the threat of a two-year band and disqualification from the 2010 Tour still hanging over his head.
CAS now seems determined to reach resolution in the long-running case before the start of the season’s most important bike race.
CAS could completely Contador or sanction him up to two years and disqualify him from his 2010 Tour crown.
The official CAS communiqué:
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has today officially registered the appeal of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the decision of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) concerning the case of Alberto Contador. A copy of the appeal has been sent to Counsel for the RFEC and for Mr Contador.
On 25 March 2011, the CAS registered the appeal filed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) against the same decision. Pursuant to the CAS rules, it is possible to consolidate the two cases, if all parties agree.
The parties will now have the opportunity to file written submissions including all their arguments and evidence. The CAS Secretary General has informed the parties that the CAS would be ready to establish a procedural calendar allowing for the settlement of the dispute before the end of June 2011.